Marouane Fellaini scores against Wigan in 2017.

How United have fared against lower-league sides

Saturday 06 January 2024 10:00

Manchester United face League One outfit Wigan Athletic in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup on Monday night, with kick-off at the DW Stadium set for 20:15 GMT.

The Reds have a strong record against lower-league sides in recent years, and it’s a run that Erik ten Hag and his squad will be hoping can continue against the Latics, as we look to go one better than last season’s runners-up finish in the competition.

Since suffering a shock 1-0 loss at home to third-tier Leeds United at this stage in 2010, we’ve played 20 FA Cup fixtures against teams from below the Premier League, failing to win just twice.

One of the draws – the 0-0 fourth-round stalemate at Cambridge United in 2015 – was followed by success in a replay, meaning Middlesbrough are the only team from outside the Premier League to eliminate us in recent years. That defeat came on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in February 2022.

Match preview: Wigan v United


The Reds travel to the nearby DW Stadium for the first time in over a decade, for this FA Cup third-round tie.

The other 18 ties, split neatly between home and away fixtures, have all been won by United, starting with a 2-1 fourth-round success over then third-tier Southampton in 2011. The Reds also beat non-league Crawley Town at Old Trafford later in that run, which was ended by Manchester City at Wembley.

The 2014/15 and 2015/16 campaigns under Louis van Gaal each saw us play three different lower-league opponents.

Yeovil Town, Cambridge and Preston North End were all beaten in the former, before Arsenal got the better of us in the quarter-finals, while Sheffield United, Derby County and Shrewsbury Town fell in the third, fourth and fifth rounds respectively during United’s last victorious involvement in the tournament.

Wigan were one of three Championship clubs, along with Reading and Blackburn Rovers, to be drawn out with Jose Mourinho’s United in 2017. The Royals and the Latics were on the end of 4-0 scorelines, while we beat Rovers 2-1 at Ewood Park before losing to Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

Reading have gone on to be FA Cup opponents for United twice more, in 2019 and 2023, while Derby have also faced us three times in the same period.

The Rams were third-round victims in 2018, prior to another meeting with Yeovil, while the East Midlands club were the last lower-league side, before Wigan, to host us in the competition.

The day United won the title at Wigan


The perfect script was written when the Reds lifted a 10th Premier League title in 2008.

Odion Ighalo scored twice at Pride Park to give us victory in March 2020, a round after we’d stuck six past Tranmere Rovers, who were then competing in League One.

Ever since, it’s just been Premier League and Championship opposition for the Reds in the cup, with victories over Reading and Watford at Old Trafford sandwiching the aforementioned spot-kicks reverse against Boro.

A 19th victory out of 21, at the DW Stadium on Monday, would see United safely through to the fourth round, which will be played on the weekend of 27/28 January 2024.